At The Beeb Volume I (Culombia (sic) PFATB6769)
BBC Studios, 201 Piccadilly, London, England – June 25th, 1968: The Murderotic Woman (Careful With That Axe Eugene) (3:57), The Massed Gadgets Of Hercules (A Saucerful Of Secrets) (8:01), Let There Be More Light (4:33), Julia Dream (3:34)
BBC Maida Vale Studios, Maida Vale, London, England – December 2nd, 1968: Point Me At The Sky (4:25), Baby Blue Shuffle In D Major (Narrow Way Part 1) (4:12), The Embryo (3:11), Interstellar Overdrive (8:34)
BBC Paris Cinema, Regent Street, London, England – May 12th, 1969: Grantchester Meadows (3:46), Cymbaline (3:38), Green Is The Colour (6:57), Narrow Way Part 3 (4:43)
BBC Maida Vale Studios, Maida Vale, London, England – December 20th, 1967: Vegetable Man (3:35), Scream Thy Last Scream (3:47), Jugband Blues (3:52), Pow R. Toc H. (4:32)
The new release At The Beeb Volume I by the label Culombia (sic) is a compilation of 4 different BBC radio broadcasts of Pink Floyd performances from December 1967 to May 1969. The first, second, & fourth are “Top Gear” shows, while the third one is a “Nite Ride” show. They comprise the 1st disc of a double-disc factory-pressed silver original real 2-CD set – Volume II, the 2nd disc of the set, is of the legendary BBC session of September 30th, 1971, which I decided not to buy since I already have 5 different versions of it and can’t imagine the best ones possibly getting any noticeably superior. Anyway, Volume I was selected because, although the outstanding Celestial Voices that was released by Rover Records several months ago included a major upgrade in sound quality for the first & third BBC shows, a big upgrade in sound quality for the second & fourth BBC shows can now be found on Volume I – in addition to such an upgrade for the first & third BBC shows that were included on Celestial Voices.
Unfortunately my ears aren’t good enough to be able to discern any noticeable difference(s) in quality between the same shows found on both Celestial Voices & Volume I, but all 4 shows on Volume I are a certain, long-awaited major upgrade in quality for the same 4 shows that can be found on the old Great Dane Records’ release The Complete Top Gear Sessions 1967-1969 (GDR CD 9206). Sadly, however, the old GDR title includes a 5th BBC show, from the autumn of 1967, for which a significant quality upgrade is apparently not available – at least not yet.
The following is printed in exact word-for-word verbatim near the top of the rear cover of Volume I –
“These soundboard recordings are taken from the original masters, except for tracks 13 to 16 which were copied from an excellent broadcast recordings.”
Introductory &/or concluding comments, mostly by John Peel, can be heard at the ends of each track. Packaged in a regular 1-CD jewel case, but with the rear insert being single-sided only in terms of artwork, with still very nice artwork overall that’s done similarly to that of Floyd’s 2nd officially-released album, A Saucerful of Secrets, At The Beeb Volume I is a terrific find that is very highly recommended.
Vol. 2 contains only the September 30th 1971 session.
Does Volume II also include the session of July 16, 1970 or is it just September 30th, 1971?
I have both “Celestial Voices” and “At The Beeb Volume I” discs, and there are a few very subtle differences.
Firstly, the first and third BBC shows are slightly louder and more powerful sounding on “Celestial Voices”, with a more pronounced bass sound. These same shows on “At The Beeb Volume I” sound a fraction thinner, slightly crisper, but more “hollow”… if that makes sense. Strangely, the Culombia [sic] label seems to have added reverb/echo to the tracks on the first and third BBC shows. This is clealy audible at the start of each song, just as John Peel finishes talking, the last second of his introduction gets an added whoosh of echo, as if he’s suddenly entered an echo chamber. I don’t know if Culombia [sic] have added the echo deliberately, to give the songs a spacier, more atmospheric feel.
Also, on “Celestial Voices” there are a couple of tiny digital glitches at the start of “Grantchester Meadows” which don’t appear on “At The Beeb Volume I”, and some of John Peel’s introductions are considerably longer on “At The Beeb”.
Overall, I prefer “Celestial Voices”, as the sound quality is consistent throughout. On “At The Beeb Volume I” there are different sources used, with fluctuations in sound quality. This is clearly evident on “Interstellar Overdrive”, which for some strange reason suffers terribly from what sounds like amp buzz throughout. I can’t imagine it is a mastering problem, as it’s hard to imagine Culombia [sic] releasing this CD with such a lot of irritating noise ruining that particular track. Then again, it’s hard to imagine the BBC broadcasting that particular session track if it was marred by persistent amp buzz. Weird.